The Tabard Inn was boutique before boutique was boutique―and still is. Nothing cookie-cutter about it. No magnetized keys. No elevators. We're talking hardwood floors; a larger-than-life, fat- bellied Buddha in the lobby; nooks, narrow staircases, and crannies. It enjoys its own style and wears its eclectic identity like a finely tailored shirt, two buttons undone. We'd pay more than $158 a night to stay here. Incredibly we don't have to.
The inn encompasses three former Victorian townhouses, so many of the 40 rooms offer unique layouts. And they're all decorated differently, with one-of-a-kind antiques, lighting, colors, and fabrics. The Tabard has a historic character, but all the bathrooms are modern. Here's one of the catches: You may be schlepping your bags (you have to request bell service) through the restaurant and around tight turns to get to your room. Editor's tip: There is no parking. That's the reality of being tucked down N Street among the brownstones. The Topaz Hotel next door offers overnight valet service ($30), and there are public decks nearby that will cost you between $20 and $25 per day.
We feel insider, plugged in to the scene at the inn's restaurant. It's the kind of place locals bring their out-of-town guests. Despite the constant buzz of conversation and activity, the restaurant's close quarters create a romantic ambience. Editor's tip: For a more private dinner, reserve table 18 if it's just the two of you and table 24 for a four-person party. Chef Paul Pelt changes the menu often, but this season keep an eye out for the cassoulet, suckling pig roulade, braised bison short ribs, and the ever-popular chestnut-and-sweet potato agnolotti (a type of ravioli) with truffles.
Tabard Inn: 1739 N Street NW., Washington, DC 20036; www.tabardinn.com or (202) 785-1277. Rates: from $158 per night. Rooms with shared baths start at $113.
What a Deal!
A room with a private bath at the Tabard Inn starts at $158. Check out how that compares to other area hotels' midweek rates.
Doubletree Hotel: $199
Four Points by Sheraton: $205
Crowne Plaza Hamilton: $234
The Westin Embassy Row: $299
Hotel Madera: $299
Renaissance Hotel: $339
Courtyard by Marriott Embassy Row: $369